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Henry Shrapnel
Major General Henry Shrapnel (3 June 1761 – 13 March 1842) was a British Army officer and inventor, most famously, of the "shrapnel shell".
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13 March 2018

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The Seikan Tunnel, the longest undersea tunnel in the world, opens.13.3.1988

Wikipedia (08 Mar 2013, 13:58)

The Seikan Tunnel, the longest undersea tunnel in the world, opens between Aomori and Hakodate, Japan.

Connecting the islands Honshu and Hokkaido by a fixed link had been considered since the Taishō period (1912–1925), but serious surveying commenced only in 1946, induced by the loss of overseas territory at the end of World War II and the need to accommodate returnees. In 1954, five ferries, including the Toya Maru, sank in the Tsugaru Strait during a typhoon, killing 1,430 passengers. The following year, Japanese National Railways (JNR) expedited the tunnel investigation.

Also of concern was the increasing traffic between the two islands. A booming economy saw traffic levels on the JNR-operated Seikan (a contraction of principal cities Aomori and Hakodate) Ferry doubled to 4,040,000 persons/year from 1955 to 1965, and cargo levels rose 1.7 times to 6,240,000 tonnes/year. In 1971, traffic forecasts predicted increasing growth that would outstrip the ability of the ferry pier facility, which was constrained by geographical conditions. In September 1971, the decision was made to commence work on the tunnel. A Shinkansen-capable cross section was selected, with plans to extend the Shinkansen network.

Arduous construction in difficult geological conditions proceeded. 34 workers were killed during construction.

On 27 January 1983, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone pressed a switch that set off a blast that completed the pilot tunnel. Similarly on 10 March 1985, Minister of Transport Tokuo Yamashita symbolically holed through the main tunnel.

The success of the project was questioned at the time, with the 1971 traffic predictions being overestimates. Instead of the traffic rate increasing as predicted to a peak in 1985, it peaked earlier in 1978 and then proceeded to decrease. The decrease was attributed to the slowdown in Japan's economy since the first oil crisis in 1973 and to advances made in air transport facilities and longer-range sea transport.

The construction of the tunnel was opened on 13 March 1988, having cost a total of ¥538.4 billion (US$3.6 billion) to construct.
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